Like-minded nations worldwide have condemned North Korea’s unprecedented number of missile test launches in 2022, with many countries expressing disapproval before the United Nations Security Council and calling out permanent members Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for not strengthening sanctions that might end the tests. Nations also question how, despite longstanding prohibitions, Pyongyang has acquired materials and expertise for the launches.
The tests violate Security Council resolutions, according to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, who strongly criticized the “barrage” of missiles launched over two days in early November, according to a U.N. news release. He demanded North Korea immediately cease reckless acts and comply with the resolutions. (Pictured:
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, U.S. President Joe Biden, center, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, right, meet on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, on November 13, 2022, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.)
One of at least 23 ballistic missiles launched on a single day in early November landed about 60 kilometers off the South Korean coast, the Security Council reported. It was the first time a ballistic missile has landed near South Korea’s territorial waters since the Korean Peninsula was divided in 1945, South Korean officials said.
Pyongyang claimed its stepped-up missile testing was a response to Vigilant Storm, a series of military drills involving hundreds of South Korean and United States aircraft performing “major air missions such as close air support, defensive counter air and emergency air operations 24 hours a day,” according to the U.S. Air Force. The two allies said Vigilant Storm is a periodic exercise that doesn’t threaten any nation. Analysts said North Korea also tests weapons for technical proficiency, crew readiness, deterrence and propaganda, Reuters reported.
Among the dozens of test fires so far in 2022 were a handful of intercontinental ballistic missiles — some of which failed — and a mid-range missile that flew over Northern Japan in early October, setting off alarms and forcing residents to scramble for shelter, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
A major concern is that North Korea is planning to test-fire a nuclear device. “North Korea’s flurry of recent missile launches, ostensibly said by Pyongyang to be a response to joint U.S.-South Korean military drills, may have also signaled a more ominous development by the nuclear-armed country: advancements toward a weapon capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads,” The Japan Times newspaper reported.
At a Security Council meeting in early November — the panel’s ninth session in 2022 to consider North Korea’s actions — 13 of the 15 member nations supported increasing sanctions against the rogue regime. They criticized council outliers Russia and the PRC for trying to justify North Korea’s repeated violations. Ruchira Kamboj, India’s representative on the council, was among those who called for full implementation of resolutions and underscored the importance of addressing North Korea’s proliferation of nuclear and missile technologies, noting the harm to peace and security in the Indo-Pacific.
Along with the 13 Security Council members, Australia, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea also have condemned the missile launches.
A Security Council resolution passed in 2006 and subsequently updated prohibits U.N. member nations from supplying, selling or transferring ballistic or nuclear missiles, or other weapons of mass destruction, to North Korea. Additionally, no weapons-related materials bound for North Korea may move through member nations’ territories, be procured by its citizens or be carried on the countries’ flagged ships or aircraft.
Nations including Australia, Japan, South Korea and the U.S. have imposed additional sanctions.
Analysts blame Pyongyang’s neighbors for helping it bypass sanctions. “Russia and China are where most of the overseas North Korean ballistic missile procurement agents are based,” Hugh Griffiths, former coordinator for a U.N. panel that monitors sanctions on North Korea, told Reuters in early November 2022.
Many North Korean citizens, meanwhile, continue to lack food and other necessities while the regime focuses on enhancing its arsenal. Mohamed Abushahab, representing the United Arab Emirates on the Security Council, called Pyongyang’s behavior irresponsible and expressed regret that the nation’s limited resources are directed toward military capabilities rather than urgent humanitarian needs.
IMAGE CREDIT: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS